Romance’ “a feeling of excitement that you receive from new and slightly dangerous experiences” – A MacMillan Dictionary definition
Regardless of whether you agree with this definition it is hard to deny travel is considered romantic and this definition is applicable.
Explorers past and present are elevated to almost hero status, their exploits in discovering our world leaves most awestruck. Vast expanses of wind blown sand or pristine ice-fields, remote islands surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean, lush rainforest still unexplored and inhabited by tribes still undiscovered are almost a definition of romance.
“a dream that for many seems unachievable”
The thought of giving up the ‘rat race’, selling all possessions and leading a nomadic life to explore the world is a dream that for many seems unachievable; nothing more than a pipe-dream. Those that have made the decision to travel fulltime possess a particular kind of drive, travelling is a passion, one which is difficult to ignore. This is true wanderlust requiring a great deal of sacrifice that only some are prepared to make.
Romance can be a strong motivator, travelling in the hope of finding a little excitement beyond that offered by the experience itself. Some seek the excitement of a short-lived whirlwind affair others are searching for a soul mate, somebody to share their future with. For those that love to travel finding another that shares this passion probably appears slightly easier when in a secluded bay on a remote atoll in the Pacific.
Wherever there is a need there is a market and there are now several websites which cater for this. Some of these are merely specialist online dating agencies which have spotted a niche and have sought to exploit it. Some such as Travel Girls or Miss Travel Dating have taken it still further, offering ‘attractive’ women the opportunity to travel for free. The concept is as simple and as old as romance itself; attractive but monetarily challenged women are offered a chance to travel with wealthy but romantically challenged men.
“the lifelong pursuit of happiness”
The sites allow women to contact prospective wealthy men in the hope that they will agree to take them travelling, additionally paying all the expenses of their female companion. The women can contact men for free but the men require to pay for membership to enable them to reply; this is how the sites make their money. It is easy to imagine where this sort of arrangement between the travelling couple could lead, sex, love, marriage and the lifelong pursuit of happiness in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Loneliness, poverty and the need to escape personal circumstances can drive some to extreme measures when it comes to seeking romance. Even the most committed solo traveller or digital nomad can relate to feelings of loneliness. Most that have spent many months and even years on the road will admit that they have succumbed to moments of feeling alone. Few are immune to missing family and friends or feeling homesick at sometime and have felt the need to seek out interaction with other human beings. Coping with loneliness is one of the greatest challenges solo travellers face.
There are many sources which fuel our perception of the romance of travel. Magazines with endless jaw-dropping images of distant stunning destinations, glossy and beautiful coffee table books, television programmes which highlight travel or natural history can leave us drooling and travelogue websites often make us green with envy.
“hanging with the Dalai Lama”
Travel is one of Hollywood’s shiny stars, almost every film seems to hop around the globe from one stunning destination to another. Specific films with a travel related theme include the search for the perfect stretch of sand in “The Beach”, to hanging with the Dalai Lama in “Seven Years in Tibet”. Recording how a motorbike shaped a revolutionary in “The Motorcycle Diaries” to the comedic genius and spectacular scenery of India in “The Darjeeling Limited”.
Maybe the scenery of “Lawrence of Arabia” has shaped the ambitions of more travellers than any other. Few will forget the scene where Omar Sharif’s sheikh Ali takes an eternity to ride on camelback from the distant horizon to the fullscreen shooter of a trespasser at his waterhole. Cinematic genius and one of Hollywood’s most enduring moments.
The majority of this media promotes in various ways the romance of travel but few deal with the realities of travelling and the challenges a nomadic lifestyle can provide. Some magazines and many personal travel blogs do attempt to address this matter, attempting to inform through personal experience. Most authors are passionate about travel, having experienced these challenges themselves, they can at least warn others regarding the challenges and hopefully how to cope with them.
The romance of Delhi belly, visa queuing or border crossing however are not such a great titles and are unlikely to make compelling reading.
Every individual has their own personal motives for travelling, they are numerous and varied. They have also been discussed in detail in a number of previous posts and recovering old ground does not seem appropriate. Further reading is available here however: Travel; Better than Sex – Journeying; Travel without destination – Wanderlust; Perpetual travel & ‘Chasing the Horizon’
Travel is a passion for many, it enriches lives, provides amazing experiences and memories, affords others outstanding opportunities and in the modern world it is possible to share this through blogs and social media. The romance of travel is carried within the heart of us all, whilst the opportunity to travel is not available to everyone the ability to dream is. Travelling vicariously is possible for anybody able to read and with access to the internet, maybe this post should be renamed the romance of the internet?